Botes : Sharks need to get back on track

Sharks captain Jacques Botes admits they made a poor start to the Currie Cup under their new coaching structure, but he is confident things can be set right with a win over the Lions in Durban on Friday.

The coastal franchise lost their first game under newly-appointed director of rugby Brendan Venter, when they were stunned by 32-30 by Griquas at Kings Park last weekend.

“It wasn’t the way we wanted to start a new era,” Botes said ahead of the game.

“You want to start well with a new coaching set-up to give them confidence and give yourself confidence as well.

“So the message has been clear and the boys know what is expected of them.

“We want to get that win this weekend to get things back on track.”

The veteran flanker is standing in as skipper following an injury to Keegan Daniel, who misses a second successive match due to knee problem.

Also out this week are centre Tim Whitehead (ankle and rib) as well as wing Sizo Maseko (hamstring), both of which have forced the Sharks to make two changes to their starting XV with SP Marais and Heimar Williams set to make their debuts.

Their visitors from Gauteng also made a poor start to the campaign, losing 30-29 at home to the Free State Cheetahs in their season-opener.

“Whoever we were going to play after a result like that (against the Cheetahs), we would expect to see us come out hard,” Botes said.

“You expect to win your home games and we’ll hope that starts happening from this week because we can’t afford to lose here back-to-back.

“It’s a vital match for both teams. They’ll come out firing as they always do, they like to play an attractive brand of rugby, especially under Johan Ackermann, and it will demand a lot from us from a defensive point of view.”

For the Lions, Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies has been included in their starting line-up as part of five changes, two being positional.

Their coach Ackermann said he was expecting a tough time in Durban.

“It definitely won’t be easy,” he said.

“But we’ll make sure we are ready for the onslaught. We won’t back down to any challenge.”

As it turned out on the opening week of the competition, the Sharks’ loss was the biggest, after Western Province and the Bulls played to a draw in Cape Town.

Botes said the results reflected how tight the competition will be in 2013.

“After our loss, we were quite happy to see a draw and no other team getting the full five log points,” said Botes.

“It’s going to be a tight competition, there is a new bunch of players coming through and I’m sure there will be some exciting rugby.

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